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Signing out my 2011 account in winter sunshine
by PeteR » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:02 pm
Route description: Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil from Glen Dochart
Munros included on this walk: Meall Glas
Date walked: 18/12/20115 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The plan for my final walk of 2011 was to attempt a couple of ‘local’ hills that have been a blot on my Munro map for too long now – Meall Glas and Sgiath Chuil. I’d read many descriptions of these two by eminent guide writers which didn’t do much to enhance them or encourage me to walk them, perhaps explaining why they remained as red marks on my map. I’d had them as possibly good winter walks though, but only in reasonable weather as the terrain looked less than inviting.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I set off on Sunday morning. Ok, it was dark when I set off but the skies were clear and remained so as the sun came up. In fact, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I drove straight past the start of the walk at Auchessan (the two chaps kitting up was all the giveaway I needed to point out where the route started, not that that stopped me driving passed ). Anyway, I parked up at a lay by a little way east of the start and got myself ready. Arriving at the track to Auchessan another chap was just setting off and we got talking a while as we walked. He was off to do the Corbett of Beinn nan Imirean, having compleated the Munros some while before.
I probably should have cut off earlier than I did, but I’d continued walking with this chap along the landrover track until passing through a gate on the plateau at the foot of Meall Glas Beag. Saw a fairly large herd of deer in a group away in front of Beinn nan Clach.
I was probably a bit further west than I should have been by this time, but from this point my walking companion and I parted company and I headed back in a north easterly(ish) direction in order to find my route onto Meall Glas. I’m not sure what difference it made, given the amount of snow anyway. Any sign of a path where I perhaps should have been walking was probably well and truly hidden by the snow and so, as it was where I was walking, it would no doubt have been a case of picking my own way toward the hill through the snow.
The snow was a bit of a b****r though Sometimes firm Sometimes not Sometimes hiding holes for me to fall in Sometimes showing me where the holes were, but I fell in them all the same All in all it was slow progress as the unpredictability of the snow sapped the energy from my legs The views were great though. I had no complaints there
At this point though I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to attempt Sgiath Chuil as part of this trip (all sorts of permutations of various timings were going through my head at the time and I was thinking day light would be an issue for me). I was very leaden legged I just put this down to one of those off days. The mind was willing – in fact the mind was very enthusiastic. But the body was putting up a fight and protesting. (it since transpires that I as suffering the early stages of a bout of pre Christmas man-flu – no doubt brought on by the whole stress and hassle of the Festive Season I just hope it has cleared by the time I collect my two lads on Friday )
Anyway, back to the walk. Man-flu or not I was determined to get one of these hills under my belt. The views toward Ben More and the Crianlarich hills were fantastic and giving me plenty of opportunities to stop and simply admire. The same went for Sgiath Chuil too. The sun glinting of the snow was impressive; like fairy lights flashing on a Christmas Tree Not that I’m the Festive type. I’m more of a bah humbug type myself
Eventually I happened upon the tracks of the two chaps I’d seen earlier kitting up and so decided to follow their tracks toward Meall Glas. Not that this necessarily made for any easier going. I was soon enjoying the odd lunge or fall here and there as I sank into the softer patches of snow.
Progress continued to be slow and I could spy, with my little eye something beginning with ‘cloud’. Heading in from the northwest(ish), but high enough not to bother me – or so I thought. As I continued walking though the view west suggested there was snow in them there clouds and it was heading my way
The route was pretty undulating, as it had been ever since leaving the landrover track earlier – up and over various rises and falls in the terrain as I headed for the bulk of the hill. But for now the sun was holding and there was plenty of blue sky to keep me sluggishly happy.
Meall Glas is one of those deceptive hills though, I think. From a distance it looks like a fairly easy big lump to walk up, but on closer inspection there was actually more ups and downs to negotiate. Always an energy sapper in the snow I find. I took a pause at the foot of the start of the ascent proper onto Meall Glas Beag. While I was sitting there I was joined by some companions as three sheep just appeared out of nowhere (else they were there all the time and I couldn’t see them against the snow). They just stood a few yards away staring at me. They seemed to be wondering what this nut case was doing putting themselves though this
And so to the walk up onto Meall Glas Beag and then onto the summit of Meall Glas. From a distance this didn’t look too bad. Steep, but manageable. Perhaps it was the snow but when I started the walk up it seemed to be something of an unrelenting slog almost all the way to the top. I still managed a few got shots with the camera though
As I plateaued on Meall Glas Beag the snow which had threatened for a while now decided to start. Visibility pretty much went, but I was able to follow the tracks of the guys who had gone before me. It was on the final rise up onto Meall Glas that got a little interesting for a while. I’m sure there is a path up this section, but in the snow the rules of engagement change and you make your way up as best you can. I was confronted by a wall of snow, which as I stood at the bottom of it looked pretty steep to me Did I try and find a route to the left or go on a bypass away to the right on what looked like more gentle (but still steep) slopes? Or did I do as the two chaps before me appeared to have done and just go for a full frontal attack?
I decided to go for the full frontal attack
Initially everything was ok and progress was being made, albeit the snow was a bit soft in place. But then the gradient steepened further and that’s where the fun really began. The snow was deepish, and soft and hard as I tried I just couldn’t get any grip. Whatever height I gained was soon lost as I slid back down. Even the ice axe wasn’t helping much, as I couldn’t get the grip with my boots that I needed. How had the other chaps managed it I wondered Perhaps crampons might help, even though the snow was soft – there was icier stuff underneath. So, I took a breather and kitted up, but that didn’t make much difference either. I was so close to the summit, but it seemed I might be defeated if I couldn’t scale this section – and it couldn’t have been more than 20 or 30 feet.
Just as I was beginning to think the hill had me beat the clouds lifted and the snow stopped. Views again And at the same time I spied a ledge to my left which I could get onto which would see me on an easier gradient I hadn’t noticed this in the clag that had descended when the snow came. And it was only a few feet away too
From this point it was an easy walk up onto the final short plateau and then a further short climb to the summit of Meall Glas
Although the cloud was lifting and blue sky was returning the views north and west were limited as the next bank of cloud was already well on its way.
This was soon to hit me as I made my way down and stayed all the way to my return to the car. It’s amazing what it did to the atmosphere of the walk. In the blue, cloudless sky at the start the area was vibrant and crisp. Now it felt cold and wintery and this was reflected in the photos, which suggested a much more seasonal atmosphere than before.
But not before I enjoyed a quick slide down that section which had caused me so much grief just a few minutes earlier when I was making my way up the hill
Not that I minded. I quite enjoy the wintery stuff too and so the return route made it a real walk of contrasts. What I was sure of though, was that I was glad to have knocked the idea of Sgiath Chiul on the head when I did as it was now well and truly shrouded in cloud and pushing myself to do that hill the way i was feeling would have been a mission as the weather deteriorated.
By the time I was back at the car I was reflecting on a good day out on the hills and as good a way to end 2011 on the hills as I could have hoped for. Sgiath Chuil awaits another day as do plenty of other hills as I consider plans for 2012 – I think I have my first walked planned out already
by pollyh33 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:49 pm
These hills are hard work in even the most ideal conditions
I did them back in August and I had a right face on for most of the initial ascent. It was only because I was with Gagfax that I managed to get to both tops and munros- he had the tough task of jollying me along
Well done for bagging another hill, and your photos are fabbie too
by SMRussell » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:07 am
PeteR wrote: The good news though is that New Years day is also on a Sunday too, so as many, many Scots will be nursing sore heads I’ll be opening my 2012 account in the wilds of the Highlands somewhere
We hope to be doing so also!
PeteR wrote:The snow was a bit of a b****r though Sometimes firm Sometimes not Sometimes hiding holes for me to fall in Sometimes showing me where the holes were, but I fell in them all the same All in all it was slow progress as the unpredictability of the snow sapped the energy from my legs The views were great though. I had no complaints there
Haha! I know what you mean. We experienced quite a mix of ice-crusted deep snow, icy shallow snow and irritating power-puff snow on Stuchd an Lochain - feels like you're doubling the work - but as you say stopping for a moment to take in the views makes it all worth it.
by SusieThePensioner » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:20 am
PeteR wrote:on account of MrsR’s insistence that I mingle with the family over the Festive Period.
Good luck with the mingling
Enjoy!!PeteR wrote:The good news though is that New Years day is also on a Sunday too, so as many, many Scots will be nursing sore heads I’ll be opening my 2012 account in the wilds of the Highlands somewhere
by iainwatson » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:45 am
did these hills on a decent day last year and the descent from the first and ascent to the second was huge so prob best to call off and leave for another day,
all the best for xmas and new year!
by dogplodder » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:48 am
Although..... having succombed to woman flu you had me sweating at the thought of doing it feeling lousy.
Looking forward to lots more of your reports in 2012!
by kevsbald » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:40 pm
by quoman » Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:38 pm
Quality report excellent photos.
by MarilynMunro » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:05 pm
Congrats on what appears to be a real grueller, especially with the dreaded bug.
All the best
by Graeme D » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:00 pm
by Johnny Corbett » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:03 pm
by lomondwalkers » Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:09 pm
by pigeon » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:07 pm
by Collaciotach » Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:29 pm
by Del246 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:02 pm